Circle of Time
I was creeping up the spire with the Halfling in the lead and the Birdman in front of me, so large he was actually blocking my view. I had just looked down over the side of the spire when I thought I heard a voice mutter, “Wait until they get a load of these bats.” I had a brief out of body memory of some movie about Las Vegas before I felt the javelin plunge into my right leg. I gasped and look up where I suddenly understood the message the words were meant to convey. Two goblins riding bats flew through the air suspended over the great crashing waterfall. To my dismay, the javelin currently thrust into my leg was attached to a rope and being held by one of the goblins. There was a flash of light behind me and I watched as the other goblin fell from his bat. Rotten luck! My goblin still held the rope in his hand and, unfortunate for me, also held my life precariously. It only took a moment for me to choose, and I did. I grasped the thick, short spear and yanked it once, tearing my flesh and causing me to grit my teeth in pain. Tears involuntarily sprung to my eyes, painful, yes but the anger I tried hard not to succumb to was the actual source. The pain and the anger, becoming a blinding rage.
And then I felt the subway car lurch to a halt. I jolted upright quickly taking in my surroundings. This happens to me sometimes. I can’t explain it. Well, actually I can a bit. I dream. No, I don’t mean I have day dreams and nightmares or any other such thing. I do this thing in my dreams that well, to be quite honest, they seem real to me. At the time they are happening, I am totally invested in the moment and everything appears as real to me as what most people would consider real life. Sometimes, I know they are “real” because I end up with small scars from escapades that could not otherwise exist unless the event actually had existed in some time and space. At the moment, I was simply trying to acclimate to what my surroundings now were. Or, more specifically, what time and space I had found myself awakened. I knew this place. The subway car behind me held a troll, a shifty nervous looking human and a rather stunning elf with blazing red hair. She was hot. Incredibly, beautifully, stunningly, hot. I could hear the voice in my head as if someone were screaming it into my ear. I had no idea who amongst my fellow passengers had thought it, but I sometimes do this. I privately refer to it as bleed over. I am not psychic. Don’t even consider it. I simply pick up vibrations of a sort.
I stepped closer to Daisy. She was on the floor tinkering with her computer. Did she even realize we had stopped? She was a human child, well, mostly child. And, she was the only one I recognized on the car. One human at the far end of the car, a troll near me. Actually, he was too near me. I mumbled something about the smell of garbage and snickered at another human near my end of the subway car as I moved slightly away from the offending troll. The troll didn’t seem to notice or mind. We appeared to be in an abandoned subway station. This wasn’t right. I may have just phased into this particular space but even I knew when I was witnessing something out of the ordinary. I was just about to turn and say something to the human I had just passed and to nudge Daisy when there was a crash of glass and a bright flash of fire. What the hell? I dunked down as the MozelTov cocktail type of projectile splattered across one end of the car and began creeping up the wall. Time to get off, folks.
Talk about feeling like you are awakening from a dream. One minute I am standing on the steps of some mountain spire, the next I am watching as the subway car I am standing on becomes a blazing inferno. I have got to stop eating chili dogs before I go to bed at night. Daisy split out of the car so fast, I didn’t even have a chance to warn her to take cover. So much for any heroics where she is concerned, I thought wryly. Daisy darted to the corner where a very obvious exit was marked, with an equally obvious sign plastered across it which read “No Entry.” Maybe the kid couldn’t read, unless it was in hypertext and surrounded with a computer screen. I saw the troll blast out of the car and go toe to toe with a Halloween Gang banger and begin bludgeoning him...with his fist? It was kind of hard to tell from where I was. Everything was a blur of motion but going incredibly slow as if my mind was just not acclimating to the new information which included a change of scenery. I could not mentally keep up. I could hear fine though and the pop, pop, pop of gun fire caused me to throw my attention back to the corner where Daisy had been frantically trying to open the closed and locked door. I saw her drop to the ground in a still bundle.
Ah, yes, now I remember...pain and anger. I felt the rush of anger flash through me again just like it had a few moments ago when I thought I had been pierced in the leg. Not so though, not yet any way. I sprang out of the subway car and tried to take cover behind the control booth where I was fairly sure Daisy’s shooter was hiding. As I ran, I heard more pops and felt searing, white hot, poker pains as tiny pellets rammed into my body. It felt like tiny, hot poker pains but I knew it must be bullets. I was muttering ow, owie, ow, ow as if I were a five year old. I could hear the words tumbling out of my mouth but had no real control over stopping it. I felt everything around me get very clear and silent as if I were in a movie and watching it very slowly. I threw a shield of armor up as I moved. If I got hit like this again, I would need to start praying the next set of dreams somehow threw me onto a secluded beach somewhere and all I need worry about is the possibility of some coconut falling on my head as I lay slumbering beneath some shady refuge.
I cleared the corner of the control booth, taking stance to do some of my own shooting when I saw him lifting his gun and point it toward Daisy again. Masochistic bastard. She was down already. Daisy wasn’t even moving. Now, he was just being an asshole. And, with that thought, the blast of a manabolt flew out of my hand as I watch his gun assembly fall apart and the clip drop to the floor. Had I not been in pain, and a fair amount of jeopardy, the look on his face might have made me laugh. He had time to register pulling the trigger and the clip magically dropping as his impotent weapon made a click, click, click noise just before he was slammed by…well, lets just call it lightening. Manabolts aren’t lightening, they are more like raw energy. The effect is about the same though. He jerked a few times and stumbled around a bit. Things get a little hazy here. I thought I saw the blur of a shadow move inside the control booth. I hadn’t even thought to look inside to make sure someone wasn’t lurking. Then there was another huge blast from somewhere causing lights to flicker and noise to rush over me. Somehow, the shooter was down. I honestly didn’t know who was shooting who now or where it was coming from. My only thought had been to get to Daisy. She seemed so small and helpless.
As suddenly as it had all started, it all seemed to abruptly stop. I looked around to see if there were anyone else I needed to whoopass on. I had been doing such a fabulous job of that so far, I noted. Note to self, do not proclaim to be some kind of combat mage if you are inept at combat. I am not much interested in sharing this news with anyone other than the tiny voice which always seems to thrive on annoying me with trivial truths inside my own head. I stepped out to look back at where the silence now reigned and saw the troll and the red headed elf that had been in the other subway car earlier. The bad guys all seemed to have run away. Daisy was moving which made me wonder how much of her had been injured and how much had been feigned injury. I had tunnel hearing. I don’t mean I can hear in tunnels, though that would be useful in a subway, one presumes. What it meant at this precise moment was that I could barely hear what the troll and elf were saying, though I thought it sounded like, Thank you. And, do you need to be healed. I did. I stepped forward.
I heard that voice again. She was saying that her name was Scarlet but underlying every word she spoke aloud, I was hearing that other voice…She’s a frigging, uber hot elf and she heals too. I rolled my eyes. I am an elf. I am hot. Ok, maybe I am not uber hot. Maybe in fact, I am just sort of average hot. I am an elf. Elves by their nature are sort of hot. I didn’t have long luscious red hair and almost vampish lips and sultry, come hither eyes like Scarlet. I might be kind of average brown, untidy, just crawled out of bed and got shot a couple of times kind of hair, with watery far off bloodshot blue eyes. That can be sexy to some people. She places some kind of healing spell on me and my ears pop clearing the vacuum of abuse. Elf=Scarlett. Troll=Bob. I heard someone refer to him as Bob the Troll.
Yaddah, yaddah, I feel like crap. There are all these words circulating, something about someone who wants us to do, something. I feel like I am about to fade out into another version of myself when I snap to at the request of my name and commlink. I had to look at my commlink.
“Kennedy,” I said. “My name is Kennedy.” I only knew that because I looked at my commlink. I had no idea which SIN I was using at the moment but I wanted to be consistent. If my commlink says Kennedy, then that’s who I am.
The shifty looking human had been muttering something about an information strip he had left taped to his desk at the bank he worked at but they had fired him today and he hadn’t been able to get that strip. I wanted to pay attention but I really needed a cup of coffee and I didn’t see a Starbucks on every corner. I must be in hell. I knew I was in Manhattan, but a street without Starbucks is close enough to hell for me. I caught the names of my sudden family. A limo driver named Mulch, who apparently had some kind of habit. He looked a little, uhm, stoned? The smelly troll was calling himself Scorch. I fervently hoped it had nothing to do with setting fire to flatulence. And, the other human was Bort. Strangely, I caught absolutely nothing about him at all. Daisy, of course, though she didn’t look like she was much interested in hanging around long. Until, there was a mention of money. You know, on a side note here, I have to mention, my dreams don’t always make a lot of sense and I tend to have a very high level of consciousness at all times. At this very moment, I am wondering how I get surrounded by a bunch of humans named Bort, Mulch, and Daisy. Scorch, well, in my warped sense of the rightness of things, this seems like a perfectly logical name for a troll. I am an elf, how do I get the most normal sounding name in our group. Kennedy is a common name. It could be my last name. Nobody uses their real names here, unless they are in government or something.
Scarlett gave us each a credit for $1,000 as well as a white credit card looking key which she said was fully licensed. It had a Manhattan Development Corporation insignia on it. It was legal and usable. The irony, I thought, I get paid for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or, possibly the right place at the right time. Stewart Goldman, the shifty looking guy, said he had been a manager at a branch location for Citibank at the Manhattan Memorial Mall. He wanted to pay us $2,000 more. Each. For one tiny little job. We would only have to break into a bank and retrieve his infostick. Sigh. This is going to be a long night.